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Florida Debt Collectors


Determined1
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Hi,

Today I called Florida's Office of Financial Regulation to determine how they oversee debt collections in my state. They referenced State Statute 559, and said from a penalty stand point it does not have alot of teeth on individual problems (from a standpoint of using it in court for penalties).

Most debt collectors are indeed exempt from having to post bond or aquire any license. However, he suggested for problematic debt collection situation, to file a complaint per the instructions and link here:

http://www.flofr.com/Director/complaints.htm

They said they want to register the complaint so when flagrant abuses take place, and if numerous complaints are filed, they will refer the violater to the Attorney General for prosection. In addition, he said a common scenario is someone will file a complaint, and rather than having to explain their actions to the Department the debt collector will remove the problematic account from the person's credit and cease collection activity because they dont want to get caught up in a large scale complaint and possible action from the AG. He suggested just filing the complaint is often very successful in individual cases.

Do you think the Floridians here should send over en masse our problems with the creeps of LVNV, Asset Acceptance, AFNI, and their bretheren?

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They were mistaken in that the Florida Laws allow for the same penalties as the FDCPA- $1,000 per violation.

559.77 Civil remedies.--

(1) A debtor may bring a civil action against a person violating the provisions of s. 559.72 in a court of competent jurisdiction of the county in which the alleged violator resides or has his or her principal place of business or in the county wherein the alleged violation occurred.

(2) Upon adverse adjudication, the defendant shall be liable for actual damages and for additional statutory damages of up to $1,000, together with court costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the plaintiff. In determining the defendant's liability for any additional statutory damages, the court shall consider the nature of the defendant's noncompliance with s. 559.72, the frequency and persistence of such noncompliance, and the extent to which such noncompliance was intentional.

I have not known the state to take action very often.

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Section 559.77 does not provide a private cause of action or remedy for an unlicensed debt collector. It applies only to those violations enumerated in 559.72.

Also, I disagree that most debt collectors are exempt. In general, if they are not an original collector, financial institution, insurance company, or attorney, AND they are collecting for a company that has a business presence within the state, they are covered.

I am dealing with a local unlicensed CA that is sending me dunning letters. It is for money allegedly owed to Gold's Gym based on a failure to cancel a membership in writing. I have my letter and fax confirmation, so they are screwed.

I sent them a DV letter and they continue to send letters. They also have failed to verify. No reports to the CRA's yet. THey are also not registered as a corporation, LLC or partnership. THey have not registered the ficticious name under which they are operating.

THeir letters violate the FDCPA in that they have altered the wording of the warnings to imply that if you ask them to verify they will obtain a judgment against you. They also threaten legal action which may be a violation.

Unlicensed activity in FL is a 3rd degree felony. Unless you are a contractor or insurance adjuster, it is rarely enforced.

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Great feedback guys. Divemedic - you know more than the office that regulates this does. BigLaw's last sentence ties in to what both the AG's office and Office of Financial Regulation told me - they dont pursue criminal complaints or penalties on these matters (unless they see a pattern of complaints). However, they do pursue the complaints in an attempt to resolve them, and show success in doing so.

What do you think of a mass effort to have complaints filed against the worst violators?

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